This is the season of advent. A time when we prepare for Christ’s coming. Long ago the prophets foretold of the Messiah’s coming, though the day and hour were not known. The people of Israel must have tired of looking – hoping and waiting over hundreds of years. During the darkest times of need, the hope probably stirred stronger. “Please God, send Him now…” What is He waiting for?
During an especially difficult time, when it seemed God had been silent for so very long, a godly band of priests called the Essenes formed a community based on faithful obedience and commitment to the text. Their world was surrounded by corruption and so they searched the scripture for hope. They read Isaiah the prophet, “a voice of one crying – in the wilderness, prepare a way for the Lord… and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed.“ God said to prepare a way and He would come. What did it mean to prepare a way? Well, the passage instructs to make a straight path. Straight is also translated righteous so they formed a community based on strict obedience. They took on that verse as their mission and sought to prepare a way, in obedience, for God. They took great care in following God.
It was John the Baptist, likely a part of that community, who got to announce His arrival. And we see him quoting Isaiah in that announcement.
At Christmas we look back to celebrate the actualization of those hopes for the Messiah. God incarnate. Emmanuel. And during advent, we prepare our hearts for the celebration, the remembrance of His coming.
This advent season, let us renew our commitment to the text and to obedience as the Essenes did. What better gift to God than to know Him and let our love for Him be shown in obedience. And just maybe, we will get to participate in preparing the way for Him to come again.